Natural Resources and Intifada: Oil, Phosphates and Resistance to Colonialism in Western Sahara

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Abstract

Rich in resources and small in population, Western Sahara, partially occupied since 1975 by neighbouring Morocco, has a history shaped to a large extent by its natural wealth. Indeed, sovereignty over the country’s phosphates became a key claim of the pro-independence, anti-Spanish Saharawi movement in the early 1970s. Yet I argue in this paper that, since the beginning of the Moroccan colonial period, it is only recently that sovereignty over these resources has re-emerged as a prominent demand of the Saharawi resistance activists. My paper charts the long history of mostly non-violent resistance in the Occupied Territories, the focus of which, since the Moroccan occupation, has traditionally been on human rights and independence. Drawing on theories of hegemony and everyday resistance, my paper explores what has prompted the recent turn towards natural resources as a demand of Saharawi pro-independence activists and asks what the wider implications of these new resistance claims are.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)645-666
JournalJournal of North African Studies
Volume21
Issue number4
Early online date22 Apr 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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